Concert Photography with M4/3? Outrageous

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CharlesB58 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,347
Concert Photography with M4/3? Outrageous

Outrageous I say!

The Conventional Wisdom for concert photography is to use FF, or at least APS-C bodies that are known to have better low light performance (such as Nikon D7xxx series. Right now, Sony is claiming many converts from Canon and Nikon because of better perceived high ISO performance and some of the benefits of mirrorless.

I stick with Olympus. Definitely bucking the trend. Which is part of my reason for using a small sensor system with dodgy low light performance. I have to take more processing steps to get noise levels down to what the best Sony sensors offer at twice the ISO. I don't mind. I consider a bit of noise an "organic" touch that hearkens back to using Tri-x or Ektachrome 400 pushed a stop or 2.

Sure, there are times when I appreciate a concert photo with the low noise, smooth tonality and wider DR that a good FF camera can produce. Usually that admiration is due more to the aesthetic than the IQ (except in regards to exposure. Some concert lighting can be extremely difficult to capture properly, especially predominately red or purple lighting).

You see, nearly everyone else doing concert photography ends up with images that look basically 1 of 2 styles. One is the low noise, so smooth it looks artificial look. Even at 100% it's hard to find noise except in some of the shadows. Yet the overall photo appears almost CGI. Granted, nowadays a lot of people conflate CGI with live imaging anyway. The style works. It shows up a lot. That's why so many people try to copy it.

The other style is to overuse the Clarity slider (or worse, overuse HDR style plugins). Colors and certain details pop. Sure, it actually increases the noise level that $10K FF kit is supposed to reduce, but that grungy, rock n' roll look is also popular.

Check out some of the music photography pages on Facebook. You'll see what I mean. A lot of people trying to produce photos that look like what a lot of other people are producing. That's normal. People want to reproduce creative styles they admire. But there comes a point where artistic aspiration, as well as technical ability, should lead most people to diverge from the crowd.
When it comes to concert photography, Olympus serves that purpose well. Not just the look of the photos, but the gear itself.  I like the lenses, the handling, the low profile. This combined with the look I like has me sticking with m4/3 despite seeing some advantages with FF.

The moral of this story is don't use Olympus for certain types of photography if you want to get the same type of photos others are producing. Really. Don't. We see too many people on this forum trying to, proverbially speaking, get the fish to climb the tree. At least as far as IQ is conerned.

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Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. Quote by Garry Winogrand

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